June 23, 2016

Would you mind the Woodbine?

While the earliest a pilot project can be secured on Danforth Avenue (a.k.a. The Danny) is in 2018, there is another east end cycling project expected to be installed this fall, which is Woodbine Avenue from O’Connor Drive to Queen Street East. On Wednesday, June 22, I visited the consultation at Stan Wadlow Clubhouse to learn more on what is being done to improve cycling in the east end.

Why Woodbine? Bike lanes on Woodbine would ultimately provide a direct north-south route from Woodbine Beach to St. Clair Avenue East (via O’Connor Drive) and would connect with existing bike lanes on Cosburn and Dixon Avenues, as well as The Danny. Two new connecting contraflow bike lanes – located on Norway and Corley Avenues – are also part of this study. The Woodbine Heights Association also unanimously approved bike lanes on that street.
The number of parking spaces is expected to be reduced in half from 383 to 205, which is slightly more than what is currently being used during off peak hours (188) and will be available at all hours. The design has been split into three sections.
Detailed diagrams of three sections - Link to PDF panels
1 – O’Connor to Gerrard – At 15.2 metres wide, that section of Woodbine is wide enough to accommodate one traffic lane in each direction, parking on the northbound side, two metre wide bike lanes, and minimum one metre buffers with bollards on both sides. Overall, this design is sufficient in ensuring the safety of cyclists, though sturdier forms of protection (e.g. curbs, planters) could be considered.
Existing conditions on Woodbine Avenue (at Danforth Avenue)
2 – Gerrard to Kingston – At 12.8 metres wide, only the northbound side with parked cars has a buffer and bollards in that section. The same thing happened during the first Bloor bike lane consultation in December 2015 in which the Shaw to Bathurst stretch was also 12.8 metres wide. After further feedback, city staff revised this stretch for the March 2016 consultation to enable protection on both sides while ensuring the bike lanes remain at least 1.5 metres wide. Let's do the same on Woodbine from Gerrard to Kingston!
Diagram of Bloor Street (Shaw to Bathurst Streets) - Link to PDF panels
3 – Kingston to Queen – Of the three sections, this one will be the most controversial. Given there are two northbound lanes instead of one, no protection is provided on either side and the northbound bike lane is placed in the door zone; thus creating a hazard for cyclists. When I spoke to the planners present, they mentioned there was not enough room to place a buffer. If the bike lanes were to be reduced to 1.5 metres on both sides and the parking lane to 2.0 metres, that would create enough space for a 0.6 metre buffer on at least the side with parked cars to mitigate the dooring risk.

Another problem with that section is the use of sharrows south of Dixon. Back in December, Dutch planner Dick van Veen wrote a post saying sharrows are NOT recommended on fast arterial roads (such as Woodbine). Therefore, they should be scrapped from the final design.
Orange - Truck route to Kingston Road (via Coxwell and Eastern)
Green - Cars can keep going on Lake Shore which becomes Woodbine
As for why there are two northbound lanes, this is the result of traffic going eastbound on Lake Shore Boulevard. While trucks must take Coxwell and Eastern to get to Kingston, cars can still take Lake Shore and Woodbine before turning right onto Kingston. If there could be a way to force cars to take the truck route to Kingston instead of Lake Shore and Woodbine, the second northbound lane could then be removed; thus enabling separated bike lanes on both sides. This problem is something the City of Toronto should be challenged to address and improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
What’s Next? – There is a second consultation on Thursday, June 23 (today) from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at St. John the Baptist Norway Church (470 Woodbine Avenue). If you are unable to attend, you can go to www.toronto.ca/woodbinebikelanes to learn more and submit your comments by Friday, July 8. The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is expected to vote on the Woodbine bike lanes in September followed by a City Council vote in October. Should these be successful, installation should commence this fall and be completed in spring 2017!

UPDATE (2016/07/17) - Dandyhorse has reposted a slightly revised version of this article on their website, which you can view here.

Bindingly yours,
Rob Z (e-mail)

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